German Air Force Eurofighters will deploy to Romania under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing to conduct an interoperability mission with the Italian Air Force under the existing ‘Plug & Fight’ series during February and March. Within the concept of ‘Plug & Fight’ a small contingent of personnel and aircraft from one Ally conducts operations with another Ally by docking on existing structures, thereby further developing interoperability during a live deployment. A highly innovative concept, ‘Plug & Fight’ operations have been executed between the German and British Air Forces before in Romania as well as during Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania and Estonia.
The planned cooperation between the Italian and German Air Forces will enable Eurofighter aircrew and support staff from the two nations to work closely together to launch enhanced Air Policing missions. This kind of event offers a real benefit to all NATO personnel, as well as enhancing Allied interoperability, building trust, and practicing essential communication procedures. The Italian and German QRA fighters will maintain the same reaction times and ensure 24/7 readiness for NATO, but the additional aircraft and personnel will offer extra resilience to the Alliance.
Enhanced Air Policing is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The Alliance implemented these Assurance Measures to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO, and deter Russia from aggression or the threat of aggression against NATO Allies. They are flexible and scalable in response to fluctuations in the security situation facing the Alliance and send a strong, unambiguous message to the public.
As part of these Assurance Measures, NATO’s Air Policing mission is enhanced across two Implementation Areas. Since 2014, Baltic Air Policing has been continuously augmented as part of the Assurance Measures by a second detachment, based at Ämari, Estonia. In the South, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s national Air Policing capabilities are and have been temporarily augmented by detachments from various Allied Air Forces. Whilst these nations are fully capable of conducting Air Policing operations on their own, aircraft and pilots of augmenting detachments can also be scrambled to conduct intercepts.